How To Work For A Boss Who Has Unrealistic Expectations – 15 Proven Ways

Written By Shahzaib Arshad

Unrealistic expectations can make your job frustrating and even miserable. Here’s how to work for a boss who has unrealistic expectations.

Bosses who have unreasonable expectations of employees are joint in the workforce.

How To Work For A Boss Who Has Unrealistic Expectations – 15 Proven Ways

According to research by Stanley A. Mulaik, Ph.D.:

(He is a professor of psychology at the University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences)

“Bosses who expect too much from their employees are likely perceived as incompetent.”

The key is, it’s up to you how your emotions respond. I’m pretty sure you’ve encountered a boss who expects too much from workers.

Here are 15 ways to work for a boss who has unrealistic expectations:

1. Understand Your Boss:

The first step is to understand what your boss expects of you. How did they explain the job when they hired you? You might have assumptions if you didn’t ask a question or weren’t given a job description.


Understanding your boss’s expectations will help you identify how to work with him. It will also help you to develop a plan to improve your performance.

2. Keep An Open Mind:

Your boss may have unrealistic expectations. You might think it’s impossible to get all of them done, but you should try anyway.

Sometimes, no matter how much effort you put into your job, something is going to fall through the cracks. This often happens in large organizations with many moving parts beyond anyone’s control.

Have an open mind about what your boss expects from you. Likewise, be willing to explain why things take time when they’re out of your control.

Your boss will understand when their unreasonable demands are too much for anyone.

3. How To Work For A Boss Who Has Unrealistic Expectations – Prioritize:

You can list off a dozen tasks on your plate all at once without breaking a sweat. That doesn’t mean you tackle them all at the same time.

Some tasks are more critical than others or need to happen first. Your boss might think all his demands are urgent too, but they’re not.

What he wants you to do and what needs to get done ASAP aren’t always the same. If your boss has unrealistic expectations, he doesn’t know “urgent” doesn’t mean “important.”

4. Get The Facts:

People often make decisions based on subjective criteria. It is like how much they like a particular co-worker or dislike another one.

Likewise, how well they think someone is doing their job. But those things don’t lead to accurate assessments of actual performance levels.

How To Work For A Boss Who Has Unrealistic Expectations

It can result in unfair or unrealistic expectations. Remember, you don’t have to be friends with your co-workers to manage them.

You need to treat them fairly and hold them accountable for their performance levels. That may lead your boss to change his expectations of you, too. He’ll finally understand they’re not based on fact.

5. Create A Profile:

If you’ve worked for a long time at the company, chances are good you know what makes your direct supervisor tick.

What triggers him, and what frustrates him? What does he care about most? Once you know the answers to those questions, it’s easier to make a plan.

Maybe you can’t please him all the time, but you might be able to keep him from getting too upset in the first place

6. Schedule Regular Check-Ins:

You might have weekly check-ins with your boss. If he wants more, give him what he needs. But it would help if you established boundaries to accomplish all the goals of both of you.

For example, if your boss expects too much from you, it’s okay to ask. Moreover, look for solutions.

Maybe your boss’s expectations are unrealistic because it’s a problem you have caused. If that’s the case, there may be steps you can take to get out of this situation.

Perhaps you need to do more research or get input from others before starting a task. Then let your boss know what else.

7. How To Work For A Boss Who Has Unrealistic Expectations – Communicate:

If you’re not comfortable talking to your boss, it’s going to be a challenge for you. Good communication is vital at any company.

It is vital with bosses who seem unreasonable or demanding. At the same time, the best course of action is always to talk as early as possible.

Communicate before that project deadline looms too large. Don’t wait for those expectations to become impossible to meet.

It’s never wrong to speak up if you think things are getting off track later. Make sure you approach your boss in private.

Give him some time to think about what you want him to know before an awkward situation becomes a real problem.

8. Ask Questions:

No matter how long you’ve worked with your boss, it still pays to ask questions. The more information you have, the better position you’re in to work for that boss.

Is there anyone else you should be talking to? Or is this request coming from someone else within your company?

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He might tell you what seems like an unreasonable request came straight from the top. In this situation, ask if he thinks he can explain why he can’t meet his needs?

9. How To Work For A Boss Who Has Unrealistic Expectations – Prepare Yourself:

We all know it’s easier said than done. Don’t panic when things start getting out of hand, and your workload is impossible, don’t panic.

Take a deep breath-you how to handle these things now. If a task takes 5 hours, don’t try to do it in 4 because you think it will make your boss happy.

That won’t work anyway. He’ll find some way to be unhappy regardless of how much effort you put into his ridiculous requests.

It’s better to get the facts by asking the right questions. Develop a realistic plan based on those facts before working on that project.

This will give you a much greater chance of success. It can prove to your boss that his expectations were too high after all.

10. Use Common Sense:

The first time you work for a boss who has unrealistic expectations, think about how you can meet his needs.

That’s okay—as long as he knows it might take longer than he hoped and accepts those limitations from the start.

Your boss might be pushing you to go faster or wants more done in less time. It’s likely that “working smarter” will be more helpful than “working harder.”

This means taking some shortcuts without sacrificing quality. Once again, this is where knowing what makes him tick will come in handy.

In some cases, there might not be anything you can do. You can’t make a specific task easier or faster because of its nature or specifications.

In that case, the best thing for you is to protect yourself by asking questions.

11. Be Honest:

If there’s no possible way your boss can get what he wants, then it’s time, to be honest with him. Do so, even if that means losing a job or ticking someone off.

How To Work For A Boss Who Has Unrealistic Expectations (2)

Who cares about that when you’re unemployed anyway? It might not even come down to choosing between being honest and working for such a boss.

You may have other options available or at least have the chance to negotiate. You’ll feel better about giving an honest answer.

Remember, you are doing your boss a favor by being completely honest. It prevents him from making assumptions that might hurt his reputation at work.

12. How To Work For A Boss Who Has Unrealistic Expectations – Learn From The Experience:

No matter how the conversation goes down, you’ll walk away feeling better for having spoken up. It’s always nice to get what you want, even if it means losing your current job because of it.

Don’t get discouraged about the future because of one bad experience—learn from it! You could have said something earlier or done something differently.

Take steps to get ahead by applying these lessons next time you’re working for such a boss.

We all know people like that, and the best way to deal with them is by not putting yourself into that position again.

13. Keep Your Options Open:

There are plenty of jobs you can apply to that won’t have this problem. They may not be as good, or you might not qualify for them.

It’s better than being miserable at one job because of a boss. Or, there are some other ways you can make money on the side.

If your current job ends up becoming too much of a struggle, you’ll have another plan in place. Don’t feel bad about having options available either!

If you don’t, it could mean that your boss is treating you wrong, and someone else might. So keep yourself protected by having different plans in place.

14. Find Inspiration:

Not everyone can work with difficult people. If you feel like you’re getting burned out, take it as an opportunity to learn about yourself.

You will know what kinds of people or workplaces will work best for your temperament and goals. Find inspiration in knowing that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself.

ordinary expectations

You don’t have to stick it out because you have already started something new. You don’t even have to go back if you still hate the job! Learn from any mistakes you made and move on.

15. How To Work For A Boss Who Has Unrealistic Expectations – Consider The Bigger Picture:

It can be helpful to think about why they might be demanding little things. Are they understaffed? Is there a ton of pressure from the boss to get things done, so he looks good?

If you know the rationale behind their requests, it might help you understand how to best respond.

Even if you don’t think about these questions, your subconscious will process it all. Use that information to decide how to handle similar situations in the future.


Working for a boss with unrealistic expectations can be challenging. It takes some time to figure out what you can or cannot do within the situation you’re in.

Knowing your limits will make it easier to choose a different option next time. Prepare for the worst, so it doesn’t take you by surprise.

Don’t be afraid to push back when you need to, and don’t feel guilty about quitting if it comes down to it. You can’t make your boss’s expectations any less unreasonable.

Thus know what you need to do to protect yourself. At the same time, you keep searching for the best job opportunity.

Last Updated on 3 months by Shahzaib Arshad

Shahzaib Arshad
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